Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Patrick Goodenough

9/29/2012 (1 year ago)

CNSNews (www.cnsnews.com)

Rice, meanwhile, looks increasingly isolated on the matter, and Republican senators are seeking answers.

On Thursday Defense Secretary Leon Panetta became the latest senior administration official to affirm that the assault in Benghazi, which killed U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, was "a terrorist attack."

Highlights

By Patrick Goodenough

CNSNews (www.cnsnews.com)

9/29/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Libya, terroist attack, Susan Rice, Leon Panetta, Benghazi, Patrick Goodenough


WASHINGTON,DC (CNSNews.com) - As more senior administration officials use the word "terrorism" in describing the deadly September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice's repeated insistence five days later that the incident was a "spontaneous reaction" to an obscure anti-Islam video continues to draw scrutiny and criticism.

Fox News reports that administration officials knew within 24 hours that the Benghazi attack was terrorism.

On Thursday Defense Secretary Leon Panetta became the latest senior administration official to affirm that the assault in Benghazi, which killed U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, was "a terrorist attack."

"The reason I think it pretty clearly was a terrorist attack is because a group of terrorists obviously conducted that attack on the consulate and against our individuals," he told a Pentagon briefing.

"What terrorists were involved I think still remains to be determined by the investigation. But it clearly was a group of terrorists who conducted that attack against that facility."

Asked when he had reached this conclusion, Panetta ducked: "As we determined the details of what took place there, and how that attack took place, that it became clear that there were terrorists who had planned that attack, and that's when I came to that conclusion."

"It took a while to really get some of the feedback from what exactly happened at that location," he added.

Rice, meanwhile, looks increasingly isolated on the matter, and Republican senators are seeking answers.

"In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi that resulted in the death of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, you made several troubling statements that are inconsistent with the facts and require explanation," Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and Ron Johnson (Wisc.) said in a letter to Rice on Wednesday.

"We look forward to a timely response that explains how the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations could characterize an attack on a U.S. consulate so inaccurately five days after a terrorist attack that killed four Americans."

Two other Republican senators are also pressing the administration for answers - not specifically about Rice's comments but about security threats in Libya in the run-up to the Sept. 11 attack.

In a letter to Clinton this week, Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) asked her to "transmit to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee all communications between the U.S. Mission to Libya and the State Department relevant to the security situation in Benghazi in the period leading up to the attacks, including, but not limited to, cables sent from Ambassador Stevens."

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Thursday accused Republicans of politicizing the issue.

"Every step of the way, the information that we have provided to you and the general public about the attack in Benghazi has been based on the best intelligence we've had and the assessments of our intelligence community," he told reporters en route to an Obama campaign rally in Virginia Beach.

"We have said all along that there's an ongoing investigation and that as more facts come out, we will follow those facts wherever they lead and apprise you of our assessments as those facts come to light," he added.

"What has also been the case is that from the very first hours after the attacks and the unrest in Cairo, there has been an attempt, unfortunately, by Republicans, beginning with Governor Romney, to try to turn this event into a partisan issue, to try to score political points out of a terrorist attack that cost the lives of four Americans, including our ambassador to Libya - and that's unfortunate."

Carney reiterated that the president views the Benghazi assault as a terrorist attack, although the president himself has not used the word terrorism.

Timeline of administration statements two weeks ago:

Sept. 14 (late morning): White House press secretary Jay Carney tells a daily press briefing:  "Let's be clear, these protests were in reaction to a video that had spread to the region." Asked whether that applied to Benghazi, he replied, "We certainly don't know. We don't know otherwise.  We have no information to suggest that it was a preplanned attack."

Carney went on during that briefing to say repeatedly that the violence was a response to the video:

--"It is in response to a video, a film that we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting."

--"This is in response to a video that is offensive to Muslims."

--"The unrest we've seen around the region has been in reaction to a video that Muslims, many Muslims find offensive."

--"Again, what we have seen is unrest around the region in response to a video that Muslims find offensive."

--"The reason why there is unrest is because of the film; this is in response to the film."

--"But the unrest that we've seen is in reaction to a film with which the United States government had no involvement."

Sept. 14 (late afternoon): State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland tells a daily press briefing: "I am going to frustrate all of you infinitely by telling you that now that we have an open FBI investigation on the death of these four Americans, we are not going to be in a position to talk at all about what the U.S. government may or may not be learning about how any of this happened - not who they were, not how they happened, not what happened to Ambassador Stevens, not any of it - until the Justice Department is ready to talk about the investigation that it's got.

"So I'm going to send you to the FBI on any of those kinds of questions, and they're probably not going to talk to you about them while the investigation is open."

Sept. 16: Rice does the round of Sunday talk shows:

On ABC's This Week:

"First of all, It's important to know that there's an FBI investigation that has begun and will take some time to be completed. That will tell us with certainty what transpired.  But our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous - not a premeditated - response to what had transpired in Cairo. In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.

". What happened this week in Cairo, in Benghazi, in many other parts of the region was a result - a direct result of a heinous and offensive video that was widely disseminated, that the U.S. government had nothing to do with, which we have made clear is reprehensible and disgusting."

On CBS' Face the Nation:

"Based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy - sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that - in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent ... We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned."

On NBC's Meet the Press:

"Putting together the best information that we have available to us today our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of - of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video.  What we think then transpired in Benghazi is that opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding."

On Fox News Sunday:

"But what sparked the recent violence was the airing on the Internet of a very hateful very offensive video that has offended many people around the world."

Sept. 17: Nuland tells a press briefing: "Ambassador Rice outranks me, as does my own boss, so she is often at liberty to say more than I am . the comments that Ambassador Rice made accurately reflect our government's initial assessment."


 

---

CNSNews.com is a division of the Media Research Center, a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) organization. Like National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System, CNSNews.com is able to provide its services and information to the public at no cost, thanks to the generous support of our thousands of donors and their tax-deductible contributions.This article is reprinted with permission.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Supreme Court justice Sotomayor warns about drones encroaching on American way of life Watch

Image of Justice Sonia Sotomayor said that she's particularly troubled by the potential for commercial and government drones to compromise personal privacy.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Unmanned surveillance planes called drones pose a threat to the privacy of American citizens, warns Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said. Speaking to students at Oklahoma City University's law school, Sotomayor says that frightening changes in technology ... continue reading


Obama says Islamic State 'is not Islamic' - what are they, then? Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Obama vowed to "degrade and destroy" the Islamic State insurgency in Iraq and Syria, He intends to do so with airstrikes and a minimal military presence on the ground. The president also declared that the Islamic State terrorists "are not Islamic." ... continue reading


Obama vows to attack Islamic State militants 'wherever they exist' Watch

Image of There has been some progress made against the group. After more than 150 U.S. airstrikes in Iraq in the past month, Iraqi and Kurdish forces have halted the Islamic State advance.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama has vowed to attack Islamic State militants "wherever they exist." Obama will be sending a limited U.S. military presence of 475 personnel. The president also declared that the United States will act in concert with a broad coalition ... continue reading


Opinion: We Need a Blue Collar Conservative like Rick Santorum in the 2016 Presidential Campaign Watch

Image of Rick Santorum is not an establishment candidate. He threatens establishment leaders in both major political parties. he has always played the role of the underdog and been counted out by the many self professed experts. That is one of the greatest assets he would bring to the 2016 Presidential campaign. He has the potential to draw voters from across party lines and help to forge a new governing coalition which can resuscitate the American dream and set us on a course to brighter future. I sincerely hope he runs.

By Keith A. Fournier

Rick Santorum is a statesman in an age of salesmen - and women. He is a man with a chest.  I will be watching his movements over the next few months. If he decides to run, and I hope he does, he will bring along with him into his presidential campaign a ... continue reading


Pelosi favors sweeping regulations to save net neutrality and ban Internet 'fast lanes' Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's an unpopular stand for many Republicans, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says she wants to give federal regulators sweeping new powers over Internet access. It's a necessity in order to save net neutrality and protect Internet users, she says. ... continue reading


READY TO STRIKE: President Obama prepared to use airstrikes in Syria Watch

Image of President Obama believes he needs formal congressional approval to take that action, according to people who have spoken with the president recently.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

From admitting that he had no policy in regards to Syria, U.S. President Barack Obama is now ready for some clear decisive action. The president says that he is prepared to use U.S. military airstrikes in Syria in order to defeat the militant jihadist group ... continue reading


Real cost of Obamacare - 350,000 jobs loss and premium hikes for small businesses Watch

Image of Individual year-round employees at businesses with 50 to 99 workers lost $935 annually, while those at firms with 20 to 49 workers are out an average of $827.50 per person in take-home pay.

By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

According to a new analysis of the effects of the health-care reform law, Obamacare has taken a toll on small businesses. According to a new study, there have been millions of dollars in reduced pay and hundreds of thousands fewer jobs. In short - many ... continue reading


More emails 'lost' connected to Lois Lerner case Watch

Image of IRS teacher Lois Lerner, who was placed on leave and has since retired, has emerged as the key figure in congressional investigations.

By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the most recent development, the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS says it has lost emails from five more employees' part of congressional probes into the treatment of conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Team Clinton turns on Obama! Foreign policy in new book dismissed as 'feckless' Watch

Image of A scathing new book from a member of Team Clinton takes President Obama to task for an unfocused foreign policy.

By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The honeymoon appears over between top U.S. Democratic alliances, the Clintons and the Obama administration. A member of the Clinton kitchen cabinet is out with a new book that slams U.S. policy as "muddled, irresolute, and even feckless." Doug Schoen's takes ... continue reading


Is hummus too fatty? First lady Michelle O's diet plan driving kids away from school lunches Watch

Image of As championed by Michelle Obama, the new school diet plan is fraught with loopholes.

By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

First lady Michelle Obama has rolled up her sleeves and launched a campaign against childhood obesity by devising a diet that eliminate high-fat foods from school lunches . The trouble is, kids find the approved school lunches too bland and are seeking ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 15:1-11
1 I want to make quite clear to you, brothers, what ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 118:1-2, 16-17, 28
1 Alleluia! Give thanks to Yahweh for he is good, for ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 7:36-50
36 One of the Pharisees invited him to a meal. When ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 18th, 2014 Image

St. Joseph of Cupertino
September 18: St. Joseph was born at Cupertino, in the diocese of Nardo in the ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter